Hate Has No Home Here

The weekend’s horrific events in Charlottesville shined a spotlight on the despicable, bigoted, anti-American groups and individuals now crawling out from under the rocks where they’ve hidden for years.

It also gave fresh momentum to a no-hate movement that’s been building here in Westport.

Earlier this summer, Bedford Middle School teacher Kerstin Rao visited Evanston, Illinois. She spotted several lawn signs:

Kerstin was staying with her husband’s cousin. Both men were born in India. Like Kerstin, her husband’s cousin is in a mixed marriage.

Pushing a stroller with her relatives’ infant daughter, and seeing similar signs on every street, gave Kerstin a “truly inclusive” feeling.

She vowed to bring that feeling back to Westport.

Online, she found the website for what was becoming a national movement. Organizers laid down a few simple rules: It could not be a fundraiser; it could not be political or partisan; the original design could not be altered, and the yard signs had to be sold at cost.

“This is truly a grassroots effort to show our welcoming hearts,” Kerstin says.

She learned that a few areas in Connecticut already had signs. She bought one from a Milford friend.

When Kerstin wrote about the movement on Jane Green’s “Westport Front Porch” Facebook page, the response was immediate. She organized a meeting at Barnes & Noble.

Baker Graphics offered a great price for printing. Steam Coffee at the Greens Farms train station offered to sell the signs to commuters.

The group that met at Barnes & Noble last week loved that the project is non-partisan. They vowed to include people from a wide spectrum to help spread the “no hate” message.

On Sunday, Kerstin and her husband Vijay brought their red-and-blue sign to the demonstration on the Post Road bridge:

“Peace is non-partisan,” Kerstin notes. “We are not affiliated with any political party, religion or cause. We just want to put a message in our neighborhoods that hate has no home here.”

She adds, “As a teacher, I imagine students of various backgrounds heading back to school, maybe feeling nervous. Maybe this will be their first year in Westport schools. The thought of them looking out their bus windows and seeing so many welcoming signs — well, that is really wearing our hearts on our sleeves.”

(The no-hate group has set up a fundraising page (click here). Donations will pay for printing only. To volunteer for the effort, email hhnhhwestport@gmail.com.)

46 responses to “Hate Has No Home Here

  1. I just bought 5 and can’t wait to put mine on my lawn and give to family and friends!!!! Thanks for bringing these great signs to Westport Kerstin!!!!!

  2. Done! Love the message!

  3. Are they sold anyplace other than Steam?

    • Hi Susan – we’ve just ordered the printing of the signs today, so I suspect they won’t be ready until at least Friday and maybe next week. If you send me an email to the address listed in the article, I’ll add you to the folks who will receive an alert when the signs are ready. Thank you for your interest!

  4. “Hate has no home here” Really ?
    “The weekend’s horrific events in Charlottesville shined a spotlight on the despicable, bigoted, anti-American groups and individuals now crawling out from under the rocks where they’ve hidden for years.”

    • Yep. I stand by both statements.

      • Russell Gontar

        Dan is correct. The election of DJT sent a signal that it was okay to hate “the other” once again. Trump and the immoral GOP formented this toxic environment and the events in Charlottesville are the result. Unfortunately, there will be more to come.

    • Nancy Hunter

      Blindness or hypocrisy?

    • Another ‘shocker’ from Mr. Petrino.

      • Nancy Hunter

        He’s highlighting the point that this incident is not new, that nothing has changed, and doubtful this history of violence and hatred will ever change.
        “Hidden for years” is a ridiculous statement.

        • Why is “hidden for years” ridiculous, Nancy? You’d have thought with a black president for eight years, we’d have had all kinds of open protests from these hate-mongers. They questioned his birthplace and talked trash, but they never walked around with assault rifles, swastikas and tiki torches in the middle of cities. Are you saying that we’ve always had this level of hatred, bigotry and prejudice in our streets?

        • Susan Iseman

          Not so ridiculous. These folks now have a leader with no moral compass, and advisors who subscribe to hateful rhetoric.

  5. Paul Argenio

    I whole heartedly agree, we cannot tolerate any hate groups.

    I will look forward to your continued marches against anti-American hate groups like you have been over the last several years. Groups such as: The news media, Black Lives Matter and Antifa, along with George Soros funded left wing anarchists that kill police officers, burn cities and shoot politicians. Oh wait…

    • Nazis……They are effing Nazis. Nice try at the false equivalence thing.

      • George Soros; convicted criminal, Nazis sympathizer, and financier of black masked storm troopers. No moral equivalence ? You are confused.

        • It looks like there are several “Haters” right here on 06880.

          I saw the sign in NYC a few months ago and ordered one for the Unitarian Church in Westport.

        • Nancy Hunter

          Please stop telling commenters “You are confused”. Instead, have a good argument.

        • Russell Gontar

          Just so you don’t inadvertently give folks the wrong impression, Soros was convicted of insider trading…in France. It will be interesting to hear your defense when Trump, among other crimes, is charged in the USA of working with a hostile foreign nation to subvert our election. God willing, he will be removed from the White House in handcuffs by federal marshals.

  6. Hi everyone. I am a long-time fan of Dan Woog’s blog. His stories are engaging and thought-provoking with a local focus. The comments section is often lively with diverse opinions. Occasionally things devolve with reactive comments, name-calling, closed-mindedness, and even condescension. That drags down what starts out as interesting and engaging dialogue. I admit I feel a bit ripped off when that happens, because I really do enjoy the ‘marketplace of ideas.’ When civil, it helps me re-consider my own opinions, and that helps me grow.

    I support free speech, and will defend and protect the rights of even the folks I most vehemently disagree with to have their say. I expect them to have the same regard for my right to express my views as well – fair is fair.

    I am a pragmatic idealist. Being a mother and a teacher has made me more aware of the power of my words. Every bit matters – my tone, the expression on my face, how I listen, how I respond – and it sets the climate for our collective day. That is a mighty big burden. I believe each of us share that burden right now for our country.

    We have serious flaws and deeply entrenched problems in our society. We didn’t get here overnight, and one rowdy or righteous post on social media will not solve our problems overnight. Conducting ourselves with more thoughtfulness and kindness every day does help.

    Asking ourselves what we believe at our core, taking the time to ask each other what we deeply believe, and listening with open hearts and open minds will at least build understanding. Conducting ourselves toward our neighbors with dignity and kindness will help us find our way through this – together.

    • Nancy Hunter

      Well said. The focus, though, isn’t always local, not everything can be swept under the rug, so dialogue is always good — just don’t take it all too seriously.

    • Mary Cookman Schmerker '58

      Thank you Kerstin for your thoughtful post. Personally I think you are right on. Our words do matter. Our facial expressions say a great deal. The tone of our voice speaks volumes. Treating everyone with dignity and kindness is of utmost importance. We do need to listen to each other, keep our hearts and minds open and examine our own thoughts, and core beliefs. I am old enough to have seen us come through many different struggles in our country. I have faith in our collective good and that we will emerge better for the struggle to stand for what is right and best for everyone, especially our precious children.

  7. Mike Stuttman

    An excerpt from the always articulate Mr. Charles Pierce’s column

    “Every Republican who ever played footsie with the militias out west owns this bloodshed.

    Every Republican who ever spoke to, or was honored by, the Council of Conservative Citizens and/or the League of the South owns this bloodshed.

    Every Republican administration that ever went out of its way to hire Pat Buchanan, and every TV executive who ever cut him a check, and every Republican who voted for him in 1992, and everyone who ever has pretended his views differed substantially from the ones in the streets this weekend, owns this bloodshed.

    Every Republican president—actually, there’s only one—who began a campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi, to talk about states rights, and who sent his attorney general into court to fight for tax exemptions for segregated academies, owns this bloodshed.

    Every Republican politician who followed the late Lee Atwater into the woods in search of poisoned treasure owns this bloodshed.

    Every conservative journalist who saw this happening and who encouraged it, or ignored it, or pretended that it wasn’t happening, owns this bloodshed.

    The modern conservative movement—born of the Goldwater campaign, nurtured by millions of dollars from corporations and rightwing sugar daddies, sold day after day on millions of radios and on its own TV network—shoved the Republican Party right where it was dying to go anyway. These were institutions whose job it was to isolate this encroaching dementia from afflicting our politics in general.

    Last November, we saw the culmination of four decades of the Republican Party trying to have it both ways, profiting from the darkest forces in American culture while maintaining a respectable cosmetic distance. On Saturday, we saw the culmination of the election that produced. At least, I’m praying this is the culmination. But I’m not sure about anything anymore.”

    Northeast republicans may feel comfortable and self assured that they are somehow removed from the horror show in Charlottesville, but the entire GOP owns this mess.

    …. yeah, yeah, I know Hilary’s emails, blah, blah, blah.

  8. Jeff Arciola

    I’m just curious if you were bothered that Obama went to a all black church for 25 years and his preacher Jeremiah wright preached to his people to hate white people. We’re you concerned when Obama was friends and had a fund raiser for a convicted terrorist Bill Ayers. How about the democrat senator for 50 years Robert Byrd. He was a grand dragon in the KKK and the Clintons said they were good friends. How about Bill Clinton joining an all white country club. It’s all ok because they are democrats and they couldn’t be racist LOL. I forgot Westport is so diverse. Blaming any political party for this is sick. There is racism on both sides. Why don’t some of these westporters that say they love everyone leave the Westport bubble and go to Bridgeport and have a March and see what diversity really is.

    • So how many signs should we put you down for?

    • If you’re going to do “how about’s,” you might mention J. Strom Thurmond, who never repudiated his bigotry. He switched from Democrat to Republican after the Civil Rights act was passed, as did many of the other Dixiecrats. Trent Lott said most of our “problems” could have been avoided if Thurmond had been elected President in 1948. Incidentally, Thurmond, a lifelong opponent of integration, didn’t mind it when it came to sex. He had a black daughter.

    • Russell Gontar

      Ayes was charged by the Feds, but those charges were later dropped. He was NOT convicted.

  9. Elaine Marino

    This weekend, a hate-filled white supremacist named James Alex Fields drove his car through a crowd of counter protesters at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, VA. Heather Heyer was killed, while 19 were injured. Thankfully, more lives were not lost.

    A year ago, a hate-filled psychopath named Micah Xavier Johnson opened fire “on white people, especially white officers” at a Black Lives Matter rally in Dallas – killing five officers and wounding seven. Fourteen months ago, a hate-filled homophobe named Omar Mateen killed 49 people at a gay night club in Orlando. In June 2015, a white supremacist named Dylann Roof killed nine people attending a prayer service at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston.

    Hate comes in all colors, all faiths and all backgrounds in this country. I fully support Hate Has No Home Here, and hope this message will be taken to heart by all citizens.

  10. Elaine Marino

    At 7:00 pm tonight, a crowd in Durham, NC pulled down a statue of a Confederate soldier located in front of the old County courthouse:


    I am very frightened for the future of our country.

  11. Elaine Marino

    Charlottesville was the home of Thomas Jefferson.He not only owned slaves, but he fathered children with his slave Sally Hemings. Will Jefferson’s plantation “Monticello” be the next to go? There are daily “Slavery at Monticello” tours there. Could a mob decide one evening that Monticello is offensive to them, and destroy it? How about the Jefferson Memorial?

    I don’t see “freedom fighters” taking down that statue, I see vandals and lawlessness.

  12. What a great message… can Westport be the messenger for domestic peace? I want a sign. I might even get over to the bridge.

  13. Mary Cookman Schmerker Staples '58

    I just spotted one of these posters in the reporting on the Boston Gathering today. The picture was credited to USA Today.

    • Mary Cookman Schmerker Staples '58

      I’m not suprized but I saw more of these posters in the MSNBC coverage of the Boston gathering this morning. (Sunday)